U.S. Presidential Elections: Profiling the Next Republican Candidate Part 3

Marianna Karakoulaki

After profiling 5 candidates, the ones that are considered to have the best prospects to win the elections, I left one strong name at the end. Rick Perry, the governor of Texas.

Rick Perry graduated from Texas A&M University with a BSc in Animal Science. Upon graduation he earned a commission in the Air Force where he was discharged with the rank of Captain. His political career began in 1984 where he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives as a democrat at the time. He served for three terms as a representative in the Texas House and before the end of his last term he joined the Republican Party. In 2000 he succeeded George W. Bush as the governor of Texas where he won three full terms.

Over the years and because of the policies he adopted he has been characterised as a “dogmatic nationalist and a noted social and fiscal conservative”. As the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry focused on the boost of the economy of the state. Even though there was a rise in the job creation rate in the past 10 years that Perry is the Governor of Texas, the wages remain in the minimum rate if not lower and most of them do not offer health benefits. In addition, according to Tami Luhby from CNN Money, job creation is not fast enough compared to the rapid population growth. As a conservative Perry is a supporter of the low taxes, however, over the years he did not oppose tax increases in different sectors, including taxes on smokeless tobacco. On the other hand, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) the gap between poor and the rich has escalated. Although Texas has been characterised as a low tax state, low taxes apply only to the high income households. A 2010 ITEP report supports that “families living near or below the poverty line generally do not experience Texas as a low tax state — instead, they pay more than their fair share of state and local taxes.”

On other issues, even though Texas has one of the highest uninsured rates, Rick Perry opposed the health care reform that Barack Obama introduced, which would allow a large number of Americans to have access on basic health care. On education, during the 10 years that Perry is in office, Texas ranks low on education indicators while it has the highest rate of adults without a high school diploma. Furthermore, Perry is a supporter of the Death Penalty and while in office 234 people were executed. When the governor of Texas was asked about the death penalty he responded “When you have committed heinous crimes against our citizens — and it’s a state-by-state issue, but in the state of Texas, our citizens have made that decision, and they made it clear, and they don’t want you to commit those crimes against our citizens. And if you do, you will face the ultimate justice”. Last but not least on immigration issues rick Perry opposes the idea of the Mexico-USA barrier and supports that the best way to deal with the illegal immigrants that come from Mexico is to send soldiers in the borders.

On August 2011 after a lot of rumours, it was confirmed by one of Perry’s spokesmen that he would run for president in the 2012 Presidential Elections. His main focus is on job creation, fiscal responsibility, healthcare and national security, whereas foreign policy is at the bottom of his agenda if not absent at all. On job creation he concentrates on the fact that during his time as a governor there was an increase on the job creation rate in Texas ignoring the fact that the wages remain at the minimum if not less and it does not keep up with the population growth. In addition, his focus on low tax regulations on big businesses and high income households will eventually worsen the economic crisis in the USA since its main working force will continue to suffer. On an article in Wall Street Journal Rick Perry introduced his new tax plan which will give “Americans a choice between a new, flat tax rate of 20% or their current income tax rate. The new flat tax preserves mortgage interest, charitable and state and local tax exemptions for families earning less than $500,000 annually, and it increases the standard deduction to $12,500 for individuals and dependents”. Since the announcement of the Perry’s tax plan there have been mixed feelings by the experts. Some believe it is fair since the tax payers will have the opportunity to choose which plan to follow, however, it will cause confusion when they will have to decide which plan is better for them. Moreover, this tax plan, and like most of the conservative tax plans, benefits the wealthy since anyone with more than $150,000 taxable income will see a deduction on their taxes.

If someone looks deeply in Rick Perry’s presidential campaign they will understand that he does not have a clear plan and his issues focus on his only accomplishment- the job creation in Texas – ignoring all the negative aspects of his policy. One of the main issues that interest Americans, healthcare, is of no importance for Perry if not ignored. As far as foreign policy is concerned, just like most of the primaries is of low or no importance since there is no clear plan. On the one hand, Perry believes that the US should not act unilaterally; however, he thinks that when necessary the US should act alone. On the other hand, he believes that the US should only intervene if the national interests of the country are affected. To sum up, if Perry wants to beat his rivals, especially Mitt Romney who seems to be the only one with a coherent plan, he must expand his agenda and focus more seriously on the issues that interest the American population.

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